Read-along: The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams (week 2)

Banner by imyril from There’s Always Room for One More

Hot on the heels of week 1, here’s my week 2 post. Prompts this week are from the fabulous Lisa of Dear Geek Place and I hope I don’t have to remind you that huge SPOILERS may occur as I babble on excitedly about this instalment; (presumably this is what it was like to read a Dickens serial back in the day – read it, talk about it with fellow readers, wait impatiently for the next part – which is a fun thought for me, and probably of no interest to anyone else).



Week 2 – Chapters 13 to 22 inclusive

Along comes The Epic Quest To a Fabled Land … What are your thoughts on Tor and Noon’s journey to find the island Micanal was searching for? What do you think they might find if/when they get there? (Do you think they’ll get there, and in one piece…?)

OK. Yes, I think they’ll get there, but it’s probably not going to be the answer to their prayers or any such thing. A mixed blessing maybe, if they’re lucky, or something worse than the Jure’lia if they’re not. The dream-walking map left by Micanal was incredible and very exciting, but now I’m starting to feel much, much foreboding. The starfish island and Firstlight have creeped me out and I’m worried about Kirune and I feel like bad things are coming.


For that matter, what did you make of Firstlight and its residents, and the hints about their origins and why they came to this island?

Plains people who escaped the Carrion Wars by sailing out into the Barren Sea? Makes plenty of sense to me. And their reaction to Tor somehow made the whole Carrion War thing much more immediate – these people have kept those stories alive and haven’t seen the aftermath of that war or what has become of Ebora. I felt so sorry for them, I don’t quite know why. Their reaction to Noon, then to the war-beasts and to Tor just made them seem so very vulnerable. Like they thought they were safe out there on a sea that no-one will sail and our heroes have just destroyed that fragile peace for them. And the one settlement of theirs we see is so small …


Meanwhile, the rest of the party is splitting up as Bern and Aldasair set out for Finneral, whose people are having their own problems after the return of the Jure’lia. What might you be expecting from this side mission?

*chanting* Romance! Romance! Romance!

After some of the things that the Jure’lia queen has been explaining to Hestilion I think we know what is happening in Finneral, the question for me is will Bern and Aldasair really be able to do anything about it? I mean, the people of Finneral thought that these pieces of an ancient Behemoth were dead, but here they are trying to knit themselves back together again. Which begs the question, does anything of Jure’lia creation ever really die? It is only really now dawning on me that the Jure’lia work on the principle that as long as there is life in one small part there is the potential for life in all. And Ygseril was only able to capture the queen, not kill her, so is that even possible? (And even if it is, what they leave behind will continue to poison Sarn, no?)


Vintage, meanwhile, has finally been forced to sit the adventures out – though that isn’t stopping her from making questionable decisions. What are your first impressions of Tyranny, and her offer to aid the war effort?

Poor Vintage! That’s got to be killing her! And with Nanthema’s current state of mind pulling on her too, I’m feeling for Vin right now.

As for Tyranny, anyone who gulps scalding-hot tea is not to be trusted!! Vintage, what are you thinking? You have a bad feeling about this and you just push it aside?? Oh, bad, bad, bad. Tyranny has admitted to enough straight off the bat to be labelled “Warning! Warning!” and put into quarantine and nobody, but nobody who has the qualities necessary for extreme hunting, looting and underhand dealing is likely to just give their prized collection away for the greater good. And she’s called Tyranny Munk for goodness’ sake!! It’s a great name, but it’s not one to inspire trust, if you ask me.


If you have any more thoughts about other developments in these chapters, let’s have them!

I don’t know if I’m just feeling extra emotional today or what, but it’s all feelings right now:

Fulcor and Gull have a baby!! Yay! (And I was quite taken with Vintage and Noon’s observation that the bat parents are having to feel their way because they have been born and bred in captivity for so long). I am so glad that Fulcor hasn’t just disappeared from the story now that there’s a dragon, and I hope we get to see how she and Gull and their baby are doing later on. *all the hearts*

Eri and Helcate have kind of stolen my heart too.

Vostok could tone down the self-righteousness a tad. Just because she remembers what the war-beasts once were and the others don’t, doesn’t make her any better than them. They were all born from the same Rain. And poor Kirune – I think my heart broke a little bit when he said, “You think I am nothing. That I am born wrong and weak.” A war-beast with an inferiority complex is possibly the saddest thing I’ve encountered yet on Sarn (not helped by my imagining Kirune to be the big tiger-creature from The Croods).

Finally, a favourite moment and much needed giggle:

“I suppose I’m just not a fan of sleeping on cold, desolate beaches while listening to a dragon snoring like a horde of wheezing dogs falling down a mountain.”

Vostok sniffed. “I snore majestically.

As do we all, darling.



The next post for this read-along can be found here:

Week 3 – Chapters 23 to 34 inclusive



  1. I think you picked out most of my favourite moments along the way here 🙂 That Moment with Kirune baring his soul KILLED me; he’s such a delicate flower at heart. Suddenly all his attitude makes so much more sense and you just want to give him a big hug (not that he’d likely let you).

    …I’m also amused that you are as suspicious of people who gulp hot tea as I am of people who don’t drink it at all after accepting a cup. Does Okaar drink it COLD?? But I can’t disagree with your assessment of Tyranny’s trustworthiness. Clearly she’s not to be trusted an inch! …but what an awesome name.

    And you’re absolutely right about the Jure’lia. It’s such an insidious threat: they can’t leave unless they win, and they’ll never stop while there’s any left alive (and they’re so hard to kill). But I refuse to give up hope for an outcome that unties this Gordian knot!

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    • Yeah, Okaar – we see you not drinking that tea! 😀
      And you’re absolutely right – we can’t give up hope despite how bad things may look. Williams doesn’t go for the obvious, but I feel sure she’ll deliver a good ending! 🙂

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